Come and see me at the Essex Young Farmers Show on Sunday the 17th 2015!

Find out how to pre-order your own tree now!

Mistletoe Trees

 

I have been going to the Essex Young Farmers Show at Boyton Hall near Chelmsford for 5 years now. It is a great show with lots going on and I hope this year will be the same! 

Yes it is nearly summer,and the time for planting trees is not traditionally ideal, however come to visit my stand to find out more about Mistletoe Trees.

Take a peak at my new varieties for 2016 and how you can pre-order a tree for that perfect present!

Birthdays

Anniversaries 

Mothers day

Fathers day (21st of June)

Christmas

Valentines day

Moving in presents

Wedding gifts

Get your orders in soon to avoid missing out on precious stock!

07974 170 857

or

Register your interest now

Mistletoe Trees

 

Brilliant day at Newton St. Loe ‘Celebration of Christmas’

After a busy Saturday delivering trees, the weekend ended on a high note at Newton St. Loe near Bath.

I was invited to the Farm’s celebration of Christmas on Sunday the 14th of December and had a wonderful time! With lots of people, some lovely scotch eggs, mulled cider and a few carols the event was a complete success. I also managed to sell a few of my last Red Sentinel trees that have mistletoe planted on them.

Here is a link to the Farm shops website –http://www.newtonfarmfoods.co.uk/

I can personally recommend some of the wonderful food they produce here.

Hopefully everybody enjoyed the celebration and I look forward to hearing from anyone who is interested in buying a mistletoe tree in 2015!  Here are a few pictures:

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Mistletoe declining in the UK

“Mistletoe could vanish within 20 years, says National Trust”

 

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2010/dec/07/mistletoe-vanish-20-years-national-trust

 

An old article I found the other day on the Guardian website enforces some of my ideas about the availability of mistletoe in ‘pick-able’ or ‘manageable’ areas. With the decline of traditionally managed fruit orchards, especially in the West of the UK, mistletoe has lost some of its best natural habitats. This is combined with the more common, or seemingly more common (perhaps not), appearance of mistletoe clumps in taller more mature trees. While driving around the country I have seen many mature mistletoe clumps growing in Poplar trees where it is just impossible to reach them! This is certainly a concern for shops and garden centres that want to cut and sell their own locally sourced mistletoe. Without mistletoe in easy reaching distance and good supplies from local orchards and fruit farms there may well be a shortage of this wonderful plant in future years.

 Mistletoe trees in the Garden News Weekly magasine

 

Well what can you do about it?? 

Simple, buy a mistletoe tree and ensure that you manage it appropriately! With my mistletoe trees, the mistletoe is at exactly the right height to pick. Even when the trees start to mature to around 10-16ft, the mistletoe will still be at ‘pick-able’ heights. You will also be helping to conserve a plant that is still surrounded by mystery about its growth and its historic connotations. Not only this, but you will also have your own small supply of mistletoe each year and be helping to feed any wildlife within your garden during the winter months!

There really are a number of advantages to having a mistletoe tree! This year I have had a lot of interest and am nearly sold out of stock for this year, so please get in touch to see whether I still have some left or to make an order for 2015!!!

Aside

 

A number of farmers over the last decade, especially those in consistently arable rotations, have discovered problems with matching weed management with increasing pressure to produce crops more efficiently in an increasingly regulated world.

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In a similar light to the 2012 floods , weeds such as black-grass (Aloprcurus myosuroides) have topped the agricultural industry’s front pages. There are a number of reasons why black-grass has become such a particular problem. Increasing levels of herbicide resistance to chemical formulas has meant the typical chemicals applied to these weeds does not have the same efficacy that they may have done ten years ago. In addition, increasingly wet weather, consistent cropping and less varied cultivations all have some affect on the build up of black-grass.Despite a particular black-grass problem in one of our fields, other problems that are becoming important on many farms include nitrate leaching over the winter period, loss of soil organic matter over long periods of time due to lack of livestock and more varied rotations. This is where many farmers have turned to cover cropping to counter a number of these issues in certain contexts.

Cover cropping is the idea of growing a crop to cover the ground during fallow periods, whether that is between vegetable rotations or between more common arable rotations. Often the winter period from September till March will have a higher level of rainfall and have more consistent ground saturation, this can lead to leaching of mobile nutrients such as nitrogen. Cover crops can counter this by using that nitrogen in the soil, storing it in the leafy green structure of each plant, allowing it to be returned to the soil and decomposed later in the spring ready for the next crop.

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Germinated Mustard seeds

This year we have decided to test some White Mustard as a cover crop and see how it could fit into our farming system on a longer term basis. We drilled the Mustard seeds in early August, straight after the Wheat had been harvested. Fortunately the weather was warm, with plenty of sunshine hours and some rainfall allowing the Mustard to germinate and grow well. During harvesting we usually bale all of the straw from a field for use on the farm for our livestock. However this year we chopped the outside headland of straw and spread it over the ground. We did this to save time when baling the straw  and means that all of our straw is better quality due to less green stalks that often lie towards the outside of fields.

This caused a large volume of straw around the outside of the field which hampered the drilling process by blocking the tine drill. This, and the fact that more straw can also allow more food and places for slugs to get to meant that slug poplations round the outside were higher than the rest of the field. It also meant that the Mustard did not germinate and grow as well on  the outer headland. Apart from this, the majority of the crop looks healthy and well. It will be interesting to see how it grows until November or December when it will need to be cut down and incorporated into the soil ready for its decomposition.

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Mustard after 5 weeks, growing over the mix of wheat and black-grass


This addition of green matter helps to aerate and build up the soils organic matter over a longer period of time, therefore although the Nitrogen benefit is short term, soil structure and organic matter can take many decades to build up appreciably. Cover crops such as Mustard are also helpful, certainly not efficient, in competing against other weeds. Thus by vigorously growing above the weeds, it creates a canopy allowing the weeds to germinate and grow, but with effective management (killing and burying before seeding) can dispose of those germinated weed seeds. White Mustard is also known for its ‘allelopathic’ biochemicals that hinders other seeds from germinating. This is thought to aid the cleaning of the seed bed. This effect can also stop planted seeds from germinating if within 6 weeks of the mustard being incorporated into the soil.

Some other benefits for the crop of White Mustard at the farm are helpful for a number of users within the farm ecosystem. Of course with any benefits, there are also a number of costs involved with growing this extra cover crop that will eventually end up being ploughed in rather than harvested for seed. The seed, the labour and fuel to drill the crop, the fertiliser used to ensure it is established well all comes to a cost. With a suitable rotation though, a cover crop helps to spread the work load between the busy summer and the usually quieter spring time.

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Picture showing the problems straw can present to germination around the outside of the field

 

 

 

 

Mistletoe Trees at the Essex Young Farmers Show 2014

In May 2014 I returned for my 5th year at the Essex Young Farmers Show at Boyton Hall, Essex. After a fantastic day of sunshine and around 13,500 visitors I had lots of interest in Mistletoe Trees and sold a number of trees. My new business card design was a success and I managed to meet lots of interesting people that wanted to know more about my trees. Many people were looking to renew their garden design or were moving house and asked about my availability and whether the trees could survive suitably in the bags as seen below. My trees can be kept in these bags for a number of years if need be, so do not hesitate to purchase your Mistletoe Tree so that you can plant it whenever you prefer!

 

YFC Show 2014 Horticultural Tent list of exhibitors can be found here.

 

Mistletoe Trees

 

 

One customer even decided to buy a Mistletoe Tree for Fathers Day on the 15th of June. What do a lot of fathers like doing? Gardening obviously! So leave the old ties and history books in the shop and buy him a unique Mistletoe Tree for next Fathers Day!

Pre-order now for Birthdays, Weddings and Christmas!

 

Henry Webber – 07974170857 – hwebber@skreensparkfarm.co.uk

 

Mistletoe Trees

The history of Skreens Park in the Essex Gardens Trust Newsletter

Below is a link to an article that was published in the Essex Gardens Trust Newsletter about the brief work that I have been doing on the history and archaeology of Skreens Park, especially concentrating on the medieval period. This period is characterised by a manor and farmstead set within a very agricultural landscape, despite a deer park being created in the early 17th century.

 

Follow the this link to get to the article. 

LanDRaP – Land Drainage Research Project

Last year an idea was sparked at a Catchment Sensitive Farming meeting between myself and Teresa Meadows surrounding the use of ground based geophysics to detect objects in the soil. After the past two years, as many farmers will know, we have experienced increasing uncertainty in seasonal variation and had some prolonged wet weather. This led to a lot of flooding over the whole of the UK and created a large problem for farmers with crops underwater for months in places. This sort of extreme weather encouraged people to think about why water was sitting in their fields and what they could do about it to stop it happening in the future. Other advisers in the agricultural community also highlighted that since government funding for new land drainage in the 1970s, there has been little new land drainage placed in the ground and very little maintenance of drains or field ditches. Thus in recent years the importance of efficient field drainage systems became a topical issue. In collaboration with the Chelmer and Blackwater Catchment Partnership, a project was put together to see if a geophsical technique, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), could be used on clay soils such as those that exist on the farm at Skreens Park to detect land drains.

Quadbike with roller and GPR antennae

Land Drain in GPR Data

GPR data with drain circled

 

 

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Excavated Land drain seen in data

The project report is available on the link below, please do have a look if you are interested! The technique was successful at finding drains, however its consistency in finding drains even at differing transect angles made it hard to interpret the GPR data. The clay soils did not represent too difficult of a problem, however the large flint nodules and uneven ground surface did make the data rather ‘noisy’ again hindering successful detection of drains. The project hopes to move forward to look at the application of this method to a whole field, enabling a potential mapping technique for identifying drains.

Not only would farmers find this useful over new land, or where paper maps have been lost, but the Catchment Sensitive Farming team could utilise this to help manage diffuse pollution going into water courses from field land drains.

 

LanDRaP 2014

The First of Many

This is just a quick post to say that soon more articles and short posts will be coming up on the website. These posts will be related to a wide range of subjects that will hopefully be interesting to some of you no matter who you are. Some posts are new ideas while other posts are little pieces of research. Any advice or comments are always welcome!